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Beijing Diary by Steve Lewis

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Steve Lewis
Lewis - fully in control of it and not at all scared!




31 July 2008






Four year cycle


Myself and my coach Steve Rippon work on a four year cycle, we have been preparing for the Olympics since 2004 when I moved to Loughborough. We sat down and spoke about the cycle and how he was going to increase things and change things throughout the seasons.


He told me where I had to be where I have to be at certain checkpoints whether they were big or small comps throughout the four years. Obviously we’ve had things which have gone well and a few things which have gone badly, I made the 2005 European Juniors, in 2006 I competed at the Commonwealth Games but then I got injured.  Then in 2007 I jumped PB’s, caught everything up again and made the World Championships but then I jumped badly there. Since then everything’s gone really well, I have hit 5.70m four times, had a few attempts at the British record and made the Olympic team so I’m on track if not abit ahead.



New Toys


The main thing im using at the moment help me is the downhill runway, it’s really helping me to focus on my technique. Because I can use my competition pole I can create enough velocity and that means I can get a feel for it and practise the timing of my swing and bar clearance which is the area that I’m weakest at. The downhill runway is our new toy at the HiPAC, it helps me to train at the same intensity as when I compete.



No fear


I’m pretty laid back and don’t use psychologists, I prefer to just sit down with Steve, I’ve got a good enough relationship with him to sit down and talk all that stuff out. But there is a different psychology to pole vaulting than a lot of other disciplines and sports, because you’ve got the fear factor, there’s an edge to it, if you get it wrong you can die.



I haven’t got a fear of pole vaulting, I feel like it can’t get me because I’m in control of it, there’s nothing that phases me about it. I respect the event a lot, I realise its dangerous and I have to be on my game when I’m doing it. I don’t just turn up and go through the motions, I come to training and give it 100% and make sure I get the most out of it. I think if you keep doing that and you don’t lose your edge and your respect for the event you can keep doing it safely.




FYI- Poles


Every single pole comes in a different length, different thicknesses and different flex numbers (how bendy it is). When you use different length run up you use different length poles, then depending on how the session is going and what you’re trying to achieve you’ll use different flexes. You need a massive range of poles to do different drills and exercises.


We calculated that during 12 months I use 160 different poles for one preparation phase. Moving up poles is all part of developing; I’m just coming onto poles which are the kind of poles that people jump really high on. Like when I jumped at Crystal Palace, all the guys who were jumping 5.80m and 5.90m were all using the same kind of pole as me but obviously then it’s the ability to use that pole time and time again and not have bad jumps but keep refining your technique and making sure that you’re getting as much out of it as you put into it.





Because I hit four A standards this year and I won the trials I pretty much expected to make the team, it was on my list of things to do so I wasn’t surprised. What’s strange is when I picked my kit up that was the really exciting part for me, it was nice to find out that I was selected but getting my kit was like a moment where you want your mum and dad to be there, I was really proud. Mum and Dad were over the moon it’s been all of our dreams since I got into athletics, I’ve wanted to be an Olympian since I was twelve!



I’m planning to pole vault on Monday 4th and fly out on Tuesday 5th. When I get to Macau I’ll acclimatise, do a bit of pole vaulting and a bit of running. 


I have a training session in half an hour so I’d better go warm up now,


I’ll speak to you from Macau….